Many analysts and even some Mavs fans didn’t expect the first round series against the Spurs to be very competitive much less go to 7 games. You can look at the play of Monta Ellis and other role players throughout the series but it should start with the Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle. For Mavs fans we all understand how great of a coach Rick Carlisle is but he is finally getting national recognition as an elite coach, even more so than after the Mavs won the championship in 2011.
Before Carlisle came to the Mavs in the summer of 2008 he was already making his mark in the NBA coaching reins by taking two different franchises to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. People overlook the fact that Carlisle took the Pistons to the Eastern Conference finals in 2003 before Larry Brown took over the following year and led them to an NBA championship. That year Brown defeated Carlisle’s Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals on route to the NBA finals. Take a second to think about that, Carlisle was able to make it to back to back Eastern Conference Finals with two different teams; how often do you hear a coach accomplishing such a feat? If Carlisle had the luxury of having Rasheed Wallace as Larry Brown did there’s no question that he would have taken that Pistons team to the finals and beaten a Lakers team in turmoil.
I personally loved the move when Carlisle became the new head coach in the summer of 2008. Carlisle brought credibility and a defensive minded approach with a chip on his shoulder. Carlisle did a masterful job in implementing a zone defense to the Mavs game plan effectively that helped in leading them to the 2010-2011 championship. Perhaps even more impressive was getting the 2012-2013 Mavs team to a .500 record in which Nowitzki missed a total of 29 games and O.J. Mayo was the team’s second leading scorer. The same O.J. Mayo that averaged 11.7 points and was the fourth leading scorer on the worst team in the 2013-2014 season the Milwaukee Bucks, yes that O.J. Mayo.
Most recently Carlisle was able to take an 8th seeded Dallas Mavericks and take the eventual champions, the San Antonio Spurs, to a decisive game 7 in the first round of the playoffs. Only one so-called ESPN “expert” saw the Mavs lasting beyond game 5 and in the end they gave the Spurs their most competitive series in their championship run. Carlisle knows how to get the best out of his players and put them in the best position to succeed. He has done it over and over again countless number of times, and I hope he continues to do so for as long as wants to remain the Mavs head coach. If you ask me he’s without question a top 3 coach and can even be made the case he ranks right behind the Spurs Gregg Popovich.
What do you think?